Creating Accessible Documents

Deciding on Document Type

When planning for your website content, think about the purpose of the information so you can decide what type of the document is the most appropriate. Consult the following compilation of reasons to help you in your choice. Please remember, all published documents must be accessible otherwise the overall web accessibility and its compliance of your site will be compromised.
Purpose PDF HTML Word .doc
Printed Preferred
Downloadable Preferred
Web Preferred
Forms Preferred
Mobile friendly Preferred
Loading speed Preferred
Interactive Preferred


Making PDF documents accessible is a considerable endeavour. Please consider publishing content online in HTML, or using native document formats (Word, PowerPoint) in favour of converting them to PDF. Several resources are available to help you make PDF documents more accessible. You may need to look into several of the following.
  1. Take a course on making PDFs accessible: U of T’s AODA office offers a weekly PDF Accessibility Clinic, on Teams, every Thursday from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
  2. Procure Adobe Acrobat Pro (not Acrobat Reader)
  3. Run Acrobat Pro’s accessibility check, and use it’s tools to correct any accessibility problems

Word Documents

Use the following guidelines and principles to ensure your word documents are accessible to all:
  • Use true headings, not just bold styling applied to body text
  • Use lists to organize content
  • Add alternate text for images
  • Evaluate the use of tables; prefer the use of lists where possible
    • If using tables, specify column and row headers where applicable
    • Use simple table structures (avoid split cells, merged cells or nesting)
  • Use meaningful link text, i.e., words that name or describe the link’s destination. Avoid things like click here (why?) or read more (of what?)

PowerPoint Presentations

Check out our Guide to Making PowerPoint Accessible (a PowerPoint Presentation you can use as a template for your own slideshows)